Monday, March 29, 2010

TOWARDS A UNIVERSAL SOCIETY : by the high dedicated non-violent activist and visionary thinker T. N. Purwar

Human society has been experiencing a suffocating and depressing situation in community living the world over. The conflict between nationalities and ideologies is sapping our creative energies in various spheres of life. In the name of human progress and prosperity all sorts of atrocities are being committed by people of affluence and authority. In the name of national integrity people are being butchered and massacred. In the name of political liberties and freedom of expression, man is being subjected to economic exploitation. In the name of economic equality, people are being deprived of their political liberty and freedom of expression *1*.

We had been thinking as to what could be the way out of these frustrations and inhuman situation. We feel that wrong assessment of human nature has been a major factor in perpetuating this state of affairs. In order to reach the desired goal, we should have a proper understanding of human nature vis-a-vis the rest of creation. At the instinctive level of preservation and propagation of the species, all living creatures are qualitatively similar, though quantitatively different *2*. But the vegetable and animal worlds have one difference in quality: members of animal world can move, while members of the vegetable world cannot move. Movement being common, the qualitative difference between man’s world and the animal’s world lies in the inquisitiveness of men, which can better be defined as quest for knowledge or reality.

This quest for knowledge or reality is the mainspring of man’s evolution towards a higher level of life; it is also the main drive in hid progress in the realms of religion, philosophy, science, technology and other spheres of life. Thus any political, social or economic system which throttles the quest of man in any sphere of life in the name of national or ideological unity would perpetuate tensions and conflicts between man and man between different social and political groups.

We feel that if we could shape the structure of our socio-economic institutions on the basis of rationality, radically different from the existing ones of nationality and ideology, we can create a universal system. Before we proceed further, let us analyse stages of social development. It began as a tribal society. In this form of society blood provides the bond of relationship between man and man. The people of the same tribe are accepted as fellow beings and equals. The members of stronger tribes are taken as demi-gods. The weaker tribes are considered to be sub-human, to be subjugated and used as slaves or for inferior work.

Subsequently, as the human mind developed philosophically, man felt that all human beings were qualitatively equal. Due to lack of communication all races of man could not contact one another. Hence people living in different territories where communication was easy, formed themselves into different national groups and developed their friendly or inimical attitudes towards other national groups.

This could not satisfy higher urges of man and thus began the search for a uniform formula which could translate qualitative equality men into socio-economic and political institutions. Prophets, thinkers and reformers put forward different ideologies to achieve this end. Consequently societies based on different ideologies were formed *3*. Tension and conflicts developed. These tensions and conflicts have become endemic in many parts of the world.

In this part of the world, we inherited a society whose rationality was based on universal values. Different ideologies about the universe, cosmos and future of man were accepted as subjective and dimensional expressions of a multi-dimensional reality. Thus even conflicting ideologies become complimentary to each other at a higher plane as different dimensions of the same reality. However, in spite of the rationality of universal values and the conceptual equality of man, equality in socio-economic spheres could not be achieved. The growth of specialisation in occupations and methods of production led to social inequalities and economic disparities. These were perpetuated by the oral system of preservation and communication of knowledge; primitive sources of energy were also responsible for continuation of these disparities and inequalities *4*.

Now, however, new technology, based on new sources of energy, the printing press and mass media of education and communication have given powerful weapons in hand of man to build an egalitarian socio-economic system on a universal basis so we can evolve and ideal universal system. To begin with, instead of mall national and warring ideological states, we will form bigger regional units, comprising such areas and people whose sensibilities and medium of expression are similar and common to a great extent. The underlying rationality of these regional units will be universal values. These regions could be the Himalayan Subcontinent consisting of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ceylon, Nepal and Burma; the Arabic speaking states; Western Europe; the U.S.A and Canada; Latin America; the Balkan States and so on.

For bringing this regional unity into existence, the first step would be free movement, without passports and visas, within such regions where the sensibilities and the medium of expression are common and similar. Secondly, a singles economic community based on equality will be evolved. Thirdly, a political unit will be established. The political forms of regions will be decided by consensus of different people who will group together. Gradually these regions will merge into a common universal society based on universal values and evolving norms, basis being compassion and love.

The rationality of the new human society will be universal values, such as (i) seeking a reality which is multi-dimensional and expresses itself in newer and newer forms, (ii) equality of man in every sphere of life.

In such a society men will be bound with one another through love and harmony unlike today’s society where fear of a common enemy huddles us together. Means of production will be community-owned and wealth produced will be common property to all. Modern forms of governments whose main business is defence, external affairs and internal administration will have very little role to play in such a society. Corporate elected bodies will be evolved to coordinate and manage various spheres of human activity.

We know that those who have vested interests in the existing scheme of things and are controlling the levers of power directly and indirectly will oppose us to the utmost with their organised ability. We fully understand their capacity to create mischief and terror but we will face in a non-violent manner all that may confront us in our struggle for a new future for mankind. As we have faith in the inherent goodness of man (evil is a by-product of circumstances and is born out of ignorance), we accept the humane weapon of non-violence and non-cooperation as our only means to achieve our ends. This weapon will have to be evolved in a scientific way through constant struggles so that it may be used in future for settling all human disputes replacing the present mode of violent conflicts.

A world-wide non-violent movement has to be created for the regional re-organisation of human society but as people belonging to the region of the Himalayan subcontinent, we have, primarily, to undertake the task of organising this region. Before we proceed further, let us analyse the social situation, political and administrative complexities as they exist today. In the major portion of the subcontinent in India and Pakistan, the Hindu-Muslim confrontation persists in various spheres of life. It receives its nourishment from the existing administrative and political arrangements known by the name of the Indian Government and Pakistan Government. The British were forced to give up colonial possession of the Indian subcontinent under the pressure of the Independence movement and the aftermath of the Second World War, which made the Empire economically unsustainable.

However, they contrived the transfer of power in a manner which enabled them to control the political strings while transferring to the people only administrative power. Our leaders, in their eagerness to control the administrative structure, fumbled during negotiations for the transfer of powers. Their short-sightedness led the people into trap laid by the British imperialists. And to this day both Indian and Pakistan, because of their confrontation in various spheres, wait on other nations, big or small, for favours in their family disputes thus eroding their political strength. Except for playing minor roles as brokers in the political arena of the world, they have not been able to contribute politically towards world’s peace and prosperity, in spite of their numerical strength, geographical situation, cultural tradition and economic potential.

Our leaders blamed each other for the cruel vivisection of the area. Congress leadership lays the blame on the leadership of the Muslim League for its communal outlook; but mockery of accusation is apparent by the fact that when it was a question of Muslims living in Hindu-majority India, they opposed division, but when it became a question of Hindus living in Muslim majority areas of Punjab and Bengal, they demanded vivisection of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal. The vivisection of Punjab and Bengal had disastrous aftermath in terms of killing and up-rooting millions of innocent people in these areas.

The present crisis in Bengal is more connected with the unnatural division of Bengal and Punjab than the partition of the subcontinent. After the eventual withdrawal of Pakistani forces from Bangladesh, Punjabi Muslims will face a horrible situation of isolation in their truncated homeland of West Punjab, which is neither economically viable nor has any outlet to the outside world. This fear of impending isolation blunts the finer sensibility of their leadership and human suffering does not touch them. It is a pursuit of their parochial vested interest which has led to the genocide in Bangladesh in the name of Islam. In the long run, however, the Punjabi forces will have to withdraw from Bengal under the pressure of continuing non-cooperation of the Bengali population and increasing guerrilla activities of Bengali patriot. If we want to quicken the pace of withdrawal of Pakistani forces and to mitigate sufferings of the people of Bangladesh, as well as to remove the impending isolation and frustrations of Punjabi Muslims, we should convince the latter that through Punjabis on the other side of the frontier, i.e. in India, they are bound in brotherhood and have common economic and cultural interest with the other people in the subcontinent. We should undertake activities which will promote this conviction and transform it into a reality.

After the Hindu-Muslim confrontation is resolved in the Indo-Pak area, we could renew age-old ties with our Afghan brethren. The geopolitics and cultural traditions of India and Afghanistan were always bound in one thread, which the Britishers distorted and snapped for their political game. They had two motives behind it; the first to have a buffer between the Indian Empire and the Russian Empire, and secondly the cripple the Indians from carrying their war of independence from Afghan territory. The printing press and modern form of communications became their hand maiden in propagating fabricated and perverted lies, on a mass scale.

In older political tradition of the subcontinent, if Prithvi Raj was not foreign invader in Kannauj and Kalinjar, then how could Mohammad Ghori be branded as a foreign invader in Lahore and Delhi? The venom of hatred created in minds of the people in the name of religion is result of ignorance and has been perpetuated with sinister motive of dividing people. We resolve to remove this venom of hatred and sublimate it to creative purposes.

In spite of common cultural background and similar sensibility, difficulties of communication created by geographical barriers between Nepal, Ceylon, (Burma) and the other parts of the area contributed to the social and political isolation of these units. Modern means of communication should now be used to break isolation of these areas and to bring people nearer to each other. For this we should strive for free movement without passport and visas between these units.
Thus, through persuasion and enlightenment we can develop a common social economic and political system based on aforesaid universal values for whole of the Himalayan subcontinent. For this end if and when needed we may have to resort to non-violent struggles also.

*1* - Apart from physical, social, emotional and spiritual aspect, the price that we have to pay in economic affairs of man for such conflicts and confrontations is staggering. Every year billions and billions of rupees and substantial proportion of human energy are being wasted in producing destructive weapons of war, which become junk after a couple of years. If these resources and energies could be put to creative and productive purposes, human society could enjoy unimaginable affluence and freedom.

*2* - The different patterns and techniques in method of preservation and propagation of species come under quantitative difference.

*3* - Islam and Christianity, like Marxism, partake of the nature of ideology

*4* - Due to oral knowledge and employment of human beings and animals as prime source of energy for the sake of efficiency and better production, occupation became hereditary and functional groups developed into social groups gradually assuming the form of castes. New technology broke the backbone of caste system; its’ economic aspect has become totally redundant and it is losing its effectiveness and utility as a social group also.)

Article By:
Triloki Nath Purwar
An Eminent Gandhian

(The article was written in 1971, before the Bangladesh war)

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